Fuhu, maker of the first Android tablet for children, tops the list of 5,000 privately held companies compiled by Inc. magazine. It's a huge honor for a company that's only been around since 2007 - and, truth be told, is largely unknown. Then again, the top businesses on the Inc. list are typically new and unfamiliar. Actually, it's a good example why Socal's technology industry can be hard to wrap your arms around. Unlike Silicon Valley, where Apple, Intel, HP and other giants provide a cluster-like foundation, the L.A. area is made up of many smallish firms but no anchor corporations. That's a huge disadvantage for all kinds of reasons. As for Fuhu (the name comes from the first two letters of the co-founders' last names), its Nabi tablet has a browser that parents can control and lets users access and organize their personal files, photos, music, and videos. A total of 1.2 million Nabis were sold last year, generating $118 million in revenue. Three-year growth is a ridiculous 42,148 percent. As the company's website explains:
As we develop experiences and solutions for children, we look at what is truly important. We create new experiences that are made specifically for children, but good enough for adults. We make them fun, engaging and rewarding. We understand that children can tell when something is authentic and made just right. As parents ourselves, we strive to answer the questions that other parents will ask. Will this product be entertaining? Will it be educational? Will it be safe? Will it give children a head start and help them grow?
From the Inc. writeup:
The Nabi is adorable. It's possible the men who run Fuhu were adorable once. Now they are very, very grown up: This is company No. 7 for Fujioka, Fuhu's president. Jim Mitchell, the CEO, is a 19-year veteran of the consulting giant Accenture. The two other co-founders, John Hui and Steve Hui, have worked in the computer hardware industry almost as long as there has been a computer hardware industry. (John Hui was co-founder of eMachines, bought by Gateway for a reported $290 million.) Their industry connections run deep: This scrappy little start-up happens to have weekly conference calls with the world's largest manufacturer, Foxconn, a behemoth with 1.4 million employees.